Hicks’ Career Day, Strong Team Defense Lead Lions Past Alfred State

Photo (by Omer Sanchez): Sophomore guard Robbie Hicks shoots a jumper during Saturday's win over Alfred State.
Photo (by Omer Sanchez): Sophomore guard Robbie Hicks shoots a jumper during Saturday's win over Alfred State.

ALTOONA, Pa. – Penn State Altoona men's basketball earned its first Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference win of the season on Saturday afternoon, defeating Alfred State College 78-69 in the Adler Auxiliary Gym.

Robbie Hicks (Rockledge, FL/Rockledge) put up a career-high 32 points for Penn State Altoona (3-2, 1-2 AMCC), connecting on 12 field goals, including five from three-point range. Additionally, a disciplined effort from the Lions' defense resulted in 25 turnovers forced, as well as holding Alfred State's Ryan Gentile and Josh Reding – each of whom entered today's game among the top 10 players in the AMCC in points per game – to a combined 13 points.

"It felt great to get the monkey off our back and get back in the win column on our home floor, especially against an Alfred State team that's proven they are going to be a good team within our conference. I'm very, very proud of how our team came out ready to compete after suffering a couple tough losses in our first two conference games," said Penn State Altoona head coach David McGreal. "Can't say enough about individual performances, and obviously the one that stands out the most is Robbie and his performance scoring the basketball today. But what I think is going to be undersold is the job he, Druw [Harman], Nate [Gillen], Austin [Krise], and Bryan [Acosta] did holding their best two players to 13 combined points. That was our game plan to stop those guys, and our guys really took the game plan and put it into play."

Andruw Harman (Chesapeake, VA/Great Bridge) finished with his second double-double in as many games, scoring 13 points for the Lions to go along with 10 rebounds. Jack Kusters (Quakertown, PA/Lansdale Catholic) added nine points and a team-high three steals, while Trey Butterworth (Clarence, PA/Bald Eagle) also contributed nine points, grabbed five boards, and led the team in assists with three.

As a team, Penn State Altoona connected on 14 three-pointers to tie the program record for the most three-pointers made in a single game.

"Good to see Trey and other guys step up today. Jack had one of his better defensive performances of his career here," said McGreal. "I'm just really proud of our effort, especially on defense against a very talented Alfred State team."

Jahmel Demery led Alfred State (3-4, 2-2 AMCC) in scoring with 14 points to go along with eight rebounds. Markel Jenkins added nine points and seven boards, while Reding and Tavion Williams scored seven apiece.

Penn State Altoona opened the game on a 10-2 run, including back-to-back three-pointers from Hicks and Harman to start the scoring.

Alfred State bounced back and eventually grabbed the lead, 18-16, at the 10:54 mark on Williams' layup. But Penn State Altoona used a pair of Dominique Campbell (Lansing, MI/Purchase Line) three-pointers to reclaim the lead, 22-20, by 7:54. Hicks' trey at 3:22 put the Lions up by eight, 33-25, and the team later went into halftime with a 36-31 advantage.

The three-pointer continued to play an integral role in the Lions' attack in the second half, as triples from Kusters, Hicks, and Butterworth got their team's offense off to a good start in the period. Butterworth's three-pointer at 16:15 put Penn State Altoona up by 11 points, 49-38, and back-to-back layups from Hicks extended the Lions' lead to 53-38 just over a minute later.

Penn State Altoona added to its lead over the next 10 minutes, culminating in a 20-point advantage by the 5:21 mark following a Hicks layup that made it 76-56.

Alfred State whittled its deficit down to nine points, but the Pioneers' push was too late, as Penn State Altoona secured the comfortable win on its home court.

Defense led to offense throughout the game for Penn State Altoona, which outscored Alfred State 38-12 in points off turnovers and 18-5 in fastbreaks.

The Lions will now look to stack conference wins, as the team has two more home games against AMCC opponents coming up next week. On Wednesday, December 11 at 6:00 p.m., Penn State Altoona will host conference rival Mount Aloysius College, before wrapping up the homestand against D'Youville College on Saturday, December 14 at 1:00 p.m.

"We'll now turn our sights to the rival up the mountain. The Mounties are coming here on Wednesday, and we've got to be prepared for them," said McGreal. "I know that coach [Will] Cabrera and those guys will be ready for us."